Looks like this game is going to be even more interesting than the circumstances alone dictated. Anthony Rizzo is back in the leadoff spot as Joe Maddon looks for to spark an offense that just hasn’t been able to get going. Kris Bryant bats second in right field, Daniel Murphy bats third at second, and Javy Baez cleans up at third base.
Murphy has been nothing short of awful since beginning his Cubs tenure with a six game hitting streak. He’s batting only .180 in his last 50 at-bats and went 0-for-11 with a glut of awkward swings against Milwaukee. Fans disagreed 100 percent with him batting leadoff and Maddon agrees. For now.
Victor Caratini has been raking over the last few weeks and he’ll look to do more of that in the fifth spot. David Bote gets his first action in left field, where he’s logged 177.2 innings in the minors, and he’ll bat sixth. Addison Russell is at short and Ian Happ bats last in center.
Mike Montgomery is coming off of consecutive brief outings, so the Cubs would really like to see him stretch things a little further in this one. Though his efforts against the Braves and Brewers weren’t really bad, the lefty was just coming off the DL and found himself in tight games that necessitated his hasty departure.
A more aggressive pitching style has Monty missing more bats of late, something that could play well against the Nats’ tough lefty hitters. He’s also giving up fewer walks and homers than at any point in his career, both of which would be good trends to continue. It starts by being careful with rookie phenom Juan Soto, who is crushing everything no matter the handedness of his opponent.
After initially slating Max Scherzer for this one, Washington opted for Joe Ross, who’s making his first official start in over a year after Tommy John surgery in 2017. You may recall that he came out for an inning of work last Friday before the rain washed that game out. The 25-year-old righty has gotten pretty good overall results in his brief career, but it’s hard to predict what or how he’ll throw this afternoon.
Ross, the younger brother of Cardinals pitcher Tyson, used to boast a mid-90’s sinker with an excellent slider and a very firm change that topped out around 88 mph. His velocity was down significantly prior to surgery last year, but it was back up in the mid-90’s in that abbreviated effort. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds now over a whole game.
Lefties have put up a .300/.367/.485 slash and and .364 wOBA against Ross, though things could be different for him now. I expect the Cubs to come out swinging in this one.
First pitch is set for 3:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago (MLB Network for the out-of-market folks) and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 13, 2018